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Jay Shek is the CEO of

As any local business owner knows, negative online reviews can have a huge impact on future business. But what should you do when you get the inevitable less-than-positive review? Surprisingly, there are many ways to get this wrong and potentially hurt your bottom line.

Based on an analysis of thousands of local businesses featured on Locality platform, I have developed a list of four crucial mistakes that small business owners frequently make when responding to negative online reviews:

Post a positive, totally fake review

It may be tempting to counteract negative reviews by paying for fake reviews, but review sites often have systems in place to identify such fake reviews.

Also, suspicious, too-positive reviews can actually hurt your reputation in the eyes of savvy potential customers.

Don’t run the risk of being publicly shamed. It’s not worth it.


While receiving a bad review can be frustrating and sometimes feel unfair, it is important to avoid becoming angry or using emotional language and profanity. Don’t become the next Amy’s Baking Company horror story (as featured on the show Kitchen Nightmares).

Your response, if you make one, should be friendly, direct, and focused on finding a mutually
agreeable solution instead of shifting blame.

Ignore feedback

I recommend treating every negative review like a customer support request.

While not every negative review needs a public response (for example, if a reviewer just didn’t like the taste of a particular dish), you should read each review to find potential problems, whether specific to one customer or general patterns, that you can fix.

Miss the sales opportunity

A negative review can be an opportunity to win back not only that one customer, but also win over other customers as well. If you respond promptly and courteously to the review and offer to help fix their problem, you can often turn a negative reviewer into a positive advocate.

Even if the reviewer can not be satisfied, other potential customers will see your sincere offer to help as a positive signal for your business.


Learning how to deal with online reviews in a positive manner is just one step local business owners should take in creating the perfect online identity, because online, your name and reputation are your most valuable asset.


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